HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - If there truly is strength in numbers, Jones County Junior College football certainly wasn't lacking Wednesday, the first day JUCO players could sign mid-year letters of intent.
The Bobcats had 14 players officially announce where they will continue their football careers.
Players and supporters filled up the Jones Hall board room. This is the vision Steve Buckley has for the Bobcats program. This was the latest sign of it coming to fruition.
"It's a remarkable testimony to Jones County Junior College and to the kids that came every day and put in the work," Buckley said. "It's not about the coaches. It's about the kids and what they've done. I said earlier in the press conference, we set two goals as a football staff.
"And that was number one to graduate players. Tomorrow one hundred percent of our sophomore class will graduate. And number two was to expose our kids to division one or four year college coaches. I think in the spring we had 86 division one schools come through."
The players that signed included Javien Hamilton (Ole Miss), Markel Winters (Ole Miss), Trevor Terry (Southern Miss), Jonathan Abram (Mississippi State), Kelby Wickline (West Virginia), Cannon Gibbs (East Carolina), Brady Farlow (Louisiana Tech), Tony Adams (Arkansas State), Tramond Lofton (Delta State), Ramon Patton (West Georgia), C.J. Johnson (Arkansas Tech), Logan Scott (Alabama-Birmingham), Khadedryck Todd (North Alabama) and Nate Cohen (University of the Cumberlands).
Two local products in Hamilton (Bay Springs) and Todd (Hattiesburg) show how much can change for a junior college athlete. Hamilton went from undersized to Ole Miss while Todd wasn't even playing football a year ago.
"Everybody said I was too small, too little," Hamilton said. "Jones gave me a shot and ever since then I've just been taking advantage of my opportunity playing at Jones. Got here weighing like 147. Now I'm at 171right now. So I mean coming here, it gave me a heads up of developing my body and me doing stuff right so I'm glad I made the decision I did."
Todd, meanwhile, had to sit out last year. He wasn't even going to get back on the field until he was spotted walking around campus by former assistant coach Chip Bilderback.
"I had another great coach. Coach Bilderback who used to play here," Todd said. "He had complimented on how I used to always do my work. Every time he seen me he always seen me with my Apple mac book. I had asked him could I try out again. Before he had left the team he had got word into coach Buckley and coach Buckley came and talked to me. I guess you can say the rest has been history."
The Bobcats will probably be adding even more to this year's story. The mid-year signing period ends on January 15.